On a day where Coronavirus fears have caused the NBA to suspend their season, the NCAA to announce that March Madness will be played behind closed doors, and English football leagues to follow suit. The NHL has instead opted to continue with their season, for now. The league announced that they will continue to consult with health officials and will make a further decision at a later date.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) March 12, 2020
The NHL Responds to Coronavirus Crisis
Earlier in the day, two NHL teams announced that they would be playing home games without fans. Local governments in Northern California and in Ohio had made decrees that prohibited events with more than 1000 people in attendance. As a result, the San Jose Sharks and Columbus Blue Jackets made their announcements earlier today.
As the world continues to deal with what is now officially a global pandemic, the response of the NHL will need to be fluid. Changing decrees from governmental authorities and new information from the World Health Organization; The Center for Disease Control; and Health Canada will all need to be taken into account. Things will certainly change in the coming weeks.
For a league that has such a high percentage of their annual revenue, and thus the salary cap, dependent on gate receipts and with the Stanley Cup Playoffs on the horizon, the stakes are high. The NHL certainly does not want to play many games without fans or worse yet be forced to cancel them. However, the coronavirus continues to spread in North America, with cases in the US jumping 58% yesterday. If those numbers don’t get under control, expect further disruptions throughout pro sports leagues.
Main Photo: COLUMBUS, OH – FEBRUARY 28: Nationwide Arena, before a game between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Minnesota Wild on February 28, 2020, Columbus, OH (Photo by Andy Wilhelm/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)